Louisiana Parents Rally to Defend Program Before Supreme Court Hearing

Lauren Williams's picture
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The American Federation for Children – the nation’s voice for education choice – last week applauded the hundreds of Louisiana parents, grandparents, and education reform advocates who traveled across the state to gather outside of the Louisiana Supreme Court in New Orleans to show their support of the Louisiana Scholarship Program.

“Put kids first!” was the battle cry at this morning’s rally, leading up to the hearing where the justices will listen to attorneys from the State of Louisiana and Institute for Justice argue in support of the constitutionality of the scholarship program’s funding mechanism.

Today’s hearing comes in response to a November 19th decision made by Judicial District Judge Tim Kelley, where he ruled that the funding mechanism for the scholarship program was unconstitutional.  The November decision came in response to a suit filed by the Louisiana Association of Educators, Louisiana Federation of Teachers, Louisiana School Boards Association and 43 school boards across the state.

"We believe that a literal reading of Louisiana's constitution allows for public education programs to be delivered through means other than traditional public schools,” said Kevin P. Chavous, executive counsel to the Federation. “There is no language prohibiting such funding in the state's constitution."

Nearly 4,700 students are currently enrolled in the Louisiana Scholarship Program, which grants scholarships to qualifying students enrolled in underperforming and failing schools, allowing them to attend the high-performing school of their parent’s choice.  A recently released survey of participating parents showed overwhelming satisfaction with the program. 

A ruling on the appeal is not expected for several weeks.